Globe and Mail reviews Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix (Abrams ComicArts). It mentions this book is part of a travelling exhibit, but the only information I was able to find about that is a show in Madison, Wisconsin.
I learned that, while he was still running Marvel, Stan Lee attempted to expose underground comic artists to the mainstream with a series titled Comix Book. The experiment lasted only five issues.
I really dig the way the writer ends the review, especially the choice of the word freedom rather than escape to describe what these books meant to their readers:
“It’s a bit weird to separate the parts from whole, but it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t really work except for the most rabid fans of the genre and the artists themselves. What does matters is that the book is a reminder of the fun those comix provided in their heyday – and of the blow they struck for kids who got to read what looked like a comic book but felt like freedom.”
You can check out a short slideshow from the book if you click on The Gallery tab at the link. It includes the cover from a 1977 issue of Slow Death that wades into the Canadian seal hunt debate.
Meanwhile, Toronto Star reviews Prayer Requested (Drawn & Quarterly), by Christian Northeast. This book includes a series of images by the artist who collects found prayer cards and illustrates them using a wide variety of techniques. “A surrealistic hoot that both mock the often pathetic desperation of those seeking assistance in obtaining divine intervention…while being curiously respectful of their efforts.” If you visit the preview section on his artist page, you can see 11 pages from the book. Interesting stuff.
Speaking of Drawn & Quarterly, an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art titled Pulp Fiction includes two D+Q artists: Marc Bell and Peter Thompson. A snippet from the blurb about the exhibit:
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Canadian art scene was radically altered. Artists acted to create networks, events, spaces and publications that allowed them to work, showcase and be seen. Their strength and ultimate success lay in their ability to tap into the media, to self-organize and to create strong national affiliations that enabled a entirely new structure to be realized through the formation of artist-run centres, video distribution centres and new publications dedicated to Canadian art. These new organizations created a parallel system for Canadian art that worked in tandem with Canada’s national and regional museums and commercial art galleries.
Pulp Fiction brings together a group of fourteen artists from across Canada as a means of examining this phenomenon of art practice. Because the work bypasses the space, systems and many of the concerns of Canada’s established institutions, it may appear to be a misfit within the traditional confines of the museum. And yet, if one embraces the idea that museums and galleries must be a place that observe, document and make history, reflecting art practice in all of its varied forms, then at some point in the evolution of this new way of practicing the work must surely have a place within the institution. Here, Pulp Fiction serves as an example of an important culture that has firmly established itself on the international market and glibly persists despite the museum.
There is more information about show dates and museum location on the MOCCA site. I’ll try to convince a co-worker to play hooky with me one sunny afternoon, and we’ll do the gallery followed by a patio pitstop.
Finally, as we’re talking about galleries and museums, I came across this post on Rich Johnston’s Bleedingcool.com. Apparently Angoulème, France hosts the world’s largest comic book convention. I’ve never heard of it, but I don’t know much about the convention world. According to Johnston, they’ve now opened Le Musée De La Bande Dessinée, a new home for the “largest public collection of comic books and original comic book artwork in the world.” Time to book a holiday.